Every week, Wendyl Nissen takes a readily available packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents

Homebrand Barbeque Sauce - $2.49 per 600ml

When it comes to barbecues we Kiwis tend to prefer tomato sauce. But in America, barbecue sauce is a common addition to food and is used as a marinade. Our barbecue sauce is different and more like the British brown sauce or HP sauce in origin.

I found this sauce tucked away with the sausages in the fridge at my local supermarket and immediately assumed that it would be full of artificial flavour and colour, which was true. But there was a surprise in store.


Fruit Puree (53 per cent) (Reconstituted tomato concentrate, apple) - Well, it was a surprise to find that more than half of this bottle is actually fruit. I find it much easier to imagine smothering my sausages with this sauce now. The tomato and apple will be contributing to the sweet/sour flavour of this sauce. This is a similar content to tomato sauce - the bottle in my fridge is 69 per cent tomatoes.


Sugar - You get 5.4g of sugar per 15ml serving, which is just over a teaspoon.

Water Molasses - This is a traditional ingredient of brown sauces providing sweetness but also the treacle-like consistency. Molasses is a by-product of sugar-making and is also a source of minerals iron, calcium and magnesium.

Thickener (1422) (from maize) - This is acetylated distarch adipate, which is a treated starch, in this case corn.

Food acid (260) - This is acetic acid, which is vinegar - an essential ingredient in a brown sauce.

Salt - You'll get 87 mg of salt per 15 ml serve, which isn't too bad.

Colour (150c) - This is caramel III, which is made by heating sugars with ammonia. The caramel colours 150a, 150b, 150c and 150d are controversial as some studies have shown that a chemical produced when reacting sugar and ammonia or sulphites called 4-MEI is a carcinogen after tests on rats. However, it is allowed in our food and is in many popular food products, such as Coke.


Vegetable gum (415) - This is gum Arabic from the acacia tree and will be in here as a thickener.

Flavour - Who knows what flavourings have been used but the absence of the words "natural" or "nature-identical" means this is artificial.

My recommendations

Although I'm delighted that this sauce is mostly made of fruit (tomatoes and apples) I'm still not happy with the colour or flavour used. Good old Wattie's tomato sauce has no need for artificial colours or flavours, so opt for that instead at your next barbecue. But if you really want to use a barbecue sauce, it is easy to make yourself. Here's a simple recipe: In a pot put 1 Tbsp olive oil, cup tomato puree, cup water, 2 Tbsp malt or cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp paprika, tsp black pepper, 1 tsp curry powder and 1 Tbsp brown sugar. Heat and simmer for five minutes.


• More than half of the bottle is made up of fruit.
• Has artificial colour and flavour.
• Tomato sauce is a better option.

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